Berlinale Forum 2011 – Nesvatbov


Nesvatbov | Matchmaking Mayor
Director: Erika Hníková
Czech Republic, Slovak Republic
Czech, Slovakian

Erika Hníková’s appealing documentary Nesvatbov (Matchmaking Mayor) tellingly opens with a drunk harassing the film crew. Mayor Jozef Gajdoš’s morning loudspeaker announcement follows (led off by Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”), in which the mayor – a former army general – admonishes the Slovakian village of Zemplínske Hámre, which he sees as being awash in alcohol, low on initiative, and generally disappointing.

The mayor is particularly exercised over the reluctance of the village’s unmarried thirty-year-olds to nest up, and hatches his own strategy to attack the demographic crisis. A matchmaking party, with 18 thirty-something couples drawn from Zemplínske and neighboring villages. “To bring you together, so that our planet does not die out.”

Problem is that Zemplínske’s aging youth, while they wouldn’t mind being with someone, also don’t really mind their single lifestyles, living with their parents, following their own pursuits. Monika goes to church, chats with her co-workers at the sausage factory, and spends comfy evenings with mom watching soft-core porn. Jančo spends all his time working on cars. Ďoďo, the most ambitious in regard to the mayor’s objectives, builds a house and stocks a liquor cabinet for a bride that, however, even he doesn’t expect to appear.

Meanwhile, the mayor continues to make his PA pronouncements on everything he finds wrong with the village, always coming back to his campaign of demographic development. He strategizes in his map-strewn office while his steadfast secretary makes forays throughout the village, extending personal invitations “to a social gathering, a singles evening, to get you interested so we can all benefit socially.” But the cozy interiors of Zemplínske’s homes (filmed in bright and cheery HDCam) stand in passive defiance of the onslaught. As the date approaches, we begin to wonder if perhaps this time the battle might not go well for the general.

Read the Forum essay.